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Writing Your Resume

You've just started your job search and you want to put together a professional-looking resume that will have employers knocking at your door. But where do you start? You have a wealth of skills and experience to offer, but you're not sure how best to present it.

The following technical resume-writing tips will help you get started:

  1. Summarize your technical knowledge in a concise, easy to read format showing all of the hardware platforms, environments, languages, communication protocols and databases you have used. In addition, rate your level of expertise with each, specify how long you have been using the technology and when you last used the technology. This example provides a sample format you may find helpful.
  2. Start with your most recent and relevant work experience first and work backwards from there. You don't start with your educational qualifications unless you don't have any relevant work experience.
  3. Quantify your experience wherever possible. Cite figures such as your track record with being on-time and on-budget, the number of lines of code you have written or debugged, how you improved efficiency (length of time or dollars saved), number of tables in the database, number of machines administered/supported, etc.
  4. Use action verbs to describe your work and your accomplishments instead of providing a passive list of job duties. You want to portray yourself as someone who gets the job done. e.g "designed, developed, tested and implemented a purchase order system in C++ with 50,000 lines of code, meeting all timelines and deadlines" rather than "responsible for programming in C++."
  5. Don't sell yourself short. Your resume is your opportunity to "sell" the skills and qualifications you have to offer to potential employers. This is not the time to be modest. Be sure to highlight your strengths and any special skills and qualifications you possess. And don't forget to mention any special awards or recognition you have received for your work.
  6. Keep your job descriptions short and to the point. Employers don't have the time to read through a detailed description of all of the projects you have worked on. Stick to the significant accomplishments for each of the jobs you have held. Your resume should not be longer than three pages at the most.
  7. Proofread, proofread, proofread. There is nothing more likely to turn off a potential employer than a resume with typographical, spelling or grammatical errors. If you don't have the attention to detail to pick out spelling or typographical errors on your resume, what does that say about your attention to detail in your day-to-day programming activities? Don't take the chance. Reread your resume several times, use spellcheckers and grammar checkers and then have a friend read the resume. Make sure the resume is letter-perfect before you send it off to anyone.

For more detailed information about writing resumes that result in job interviews, have a look at the following resources:

Resume Writing Advice This series of articles from the Rockport Institute will put you well on your way to writing a resume that will land job interviews.

Susan Ireland's Resume GuideThis is a very comprehensive resume writing site, complete with resume and cover letter samples.